The top Democrat in the Iowa Senate is blasting Republican Governor Kim Reynolds for how the state has managed federal funds to help low-income Iowans pay overdue rent and utility bills during the pandemic. A Des Moines Register analysis found the state has awarded about two percent of the 195 million in rent relief it received from the last round of pandemic aid approved during the Trump Administration. Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls of Coralville says that’s unacceptable.
“This is another example of the governor saying one thing and doing another,” Wahls says. “She has said that affordable housing is a priority…and obviously they’re slow-walking getting these dollars out the door.” The State of Iowa is eligible for another 120 million dollars worth of rental assistance. A spokesperson for the state agency that’s managing the program says a final decision has not been made yet on whether the state will apply for those funds. Iowa Congressman Cindy Axne, a Democrat from West Des Moines, says the state should be using all of that money.
“I talk to people all the time who can’t afford the roof over their heads. I’ve talked to landlords who are having a difficult time,” Axne says. “Let’s put some rental assistance into those hands so those landlords who have the affordable housing can keep the affordable housing in our communities.” A federal moratorium on evictions for renters who’ve lost work due to the pandemic is set to end July 31st. State officials have thus far awarded about four million dollars in rent and utility assistance out of the initial 195 million dollar alottment.